UDO: “Community Character” Meeting Tomorrow Night

From the Decatur Next site


On March 3, the city commission approved Phase Two of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) process, clearing the way for our next steps: drilling down on currently unresolved issues; and preparing a comprehensive draft for community review.

As you’ll recall, Phase One involved two goals: establishing how our various regulations could be consolidated into one unified, easy-to-use document; and determining if any particular areas of those regulations required further discussion and consideration by the community.

Four subjects emerged and were affirmed by the community January 8: community character; stormwater; sustainability; and the prospect of new zoning district options to allow for additional housing types.

Now, we drill down. To better discuss the complexity of these subjects, and their potential impacts on competing community goals, we’ll be holding a series of subject-specific, interactive meetings during March and April. The complete schedule of those meetings can be found here.

First up: Community Character. Join us Wednesday, March 12, from 7-9pm, as we explore the look and feel of Decatur’s neighborhoods, and consider what, if anything, we should do to better protect or enhance it.

Participants can expect to:

  1. Discuss how neighborhood character is perceived and how, to them, it’s being impacted by development, renovation, new construction or other related efforts;
  2. Learn how particular issues of concern can be regulated; and
  3. Make recommendations on what issues should be regulated, and how.

If you’ve got ideas or concerns about how our neighborhoods are or should be evolving over time, this is your opportunity to make your own impact. Please make time to join us.

12 thoughts on “UDO: “Community Character” Meeting Tomorrow Night”

  1. J_T is quite the character. So my vote is for him to be the “Decatur Community Character.” Second place goes to Rick Julian.


    1. Strong contenders, to be sure. But Decatur’s most spectacular community characters are nowhere to be found on this or any other blog.

      1. I don’t know about that. Are you sure that Spencer Johnson isn’t one of the anonymous commenters?

  2. I’ve been chuckling over the name of this meeting for hours. I can’t go tomorrow night but I’ve been close to canceling tomorrow’s plans just so I can learn more about our community characters and how we can unify them. Sounds like an impossible task.

  3. “just so I can learn more about our community characters and how we can unify them. ” — That meeting is not where you could learn that.

  4. Strip the political wrapper from this enchanting title and you are left with the more appropriate “How to Foist a Historic District upon an Unwelcoming Community in 3 Easy Steps…”

    1. Bike boy, funny I was thinking just the opposite, something like “how to allow profiteering developers take over a community in 3 easy steps…” Should be an interesting meeting.

    2. There are already six historic districts in Decatur. I don’t think the city needs to sneak by any veiled intentions into the UDO conversation to “foist” such designation on other areas. Property owners had to approve their property for inclusion in all the other districts, so “unwelcoming community” certainly does not apply here.

    3. Bikeboy is referring to the proposed “Conservation Districts” mentioned among the UDO topics for discussion. The stated intention of these districts is to preserve the integrity of a neighborhood lacking historic district designation, whether due to age &/or significance, by giving them greater control over demolition and new construction; specifically, delaying demolition of houses via neighborhood notification, permit review, and public hearing, and regulating new construction to meet the aesthetics that the neighborhood wants to see. And they said the tree ordinance was just supposed to be about stopping developers from clear cutting land… Color me skeptical…

      The city states that conservation districts wouldn’t have the level of control that historic districts do because the houses aren’t that old, but from the reading I’ve done, these districts are referred to as “preservation lite” and are seen as a gateway to changing these neighborhoods’ designation into historic districts when enough houses become old enough that they can justify it. More expense and less control. I’ve owned a condo and don’t care to deal with an HOA ever again.

      According to the City, “conservation district creation could be initiated by the city or by nomination. Nominated districts would require verifiable written support from the owners of more than 50% of the privately owned parcels in the proposed district.” Only 50.1% required. Decatur hasn’t stated anything about minimum count requirements and I haven’t seen any online either, so what’s the minimum number of houses required?

      What if I want to opt-out? I’m all for historic awareness and appreciation; I used to play on 2,000 year old Roman ruins as a little kid and enjoyed hanging out in Old Town Alexandria as a teenager. But all of this seems like people either trying to hold onto the idealized “good ole days” or prevent change for the sake (or spite) of it.

      1. We moved to our 100+ year old house here in Decatur from a condo in midtown. After that experience, I was specifically looking for a home that did not have an HOA or historic district baggage and restrictions. I don’t like the idea that 50.1% of folks who live near me, and who I have to assume, won’t help me pay my mortgage, can decide to curb my property rights without my consent.

        My house along with many in Decatur, are just old. Mine is not historic, nor significant in any way.

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